Three Senators in Scandal
National security agents arrested three members of the Senate while taking bribes in Balkh. The representative of the Attorney General was also present during the arrest. The detainees were members of a delegation commissioned by the Senate to inspect the Balkh Revenue Office. The amount offered to them as a bribe was $40,000. This has been reported to the Senate in writing.
There is no information about the Balkh civil servants who offered the above amount as a bribe to the three Senators. It is not yet clear who proposed this huge sum as a bribe to these senators. The purpose of the bribe is also unknown at this time.
Article 25 of the Constitution and Article 5 of the Penal Code uphold the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, and accordingly, the three Senators will be acquitted until convicted by a competent court.
According to the National Directorate of Security and the Attorney General, the arrest of the three members of the Senate was legally acceptable. The steps announced by these institutions for the arrest of these senators are approved by the second paragraph of Article 102 of the Constitution. However, according to the third paragraph of this article, the Senate needs to “approve” the arrest and prosecution of these three senators. Simply reporting the crime is not enough for this institution.
In the country’s Penal Code, acts of bribery, whether as the party taking or giving the bribe, or any intermediary in this affair, as well as the intentions and conditions of the parties and the extent of their punishment are fully defined. The first chapter of book four of the Penal Code, Articles 370 to 387, deals with this in detail. According to this chapter, those accepting bribes and intermediaries are also criminals. Unfortunately, nothing has been said so far about the identities and status of those who offered $40,000 in bribes to these senators. The identities of those who acted as agents of this bribe have also not been revealed. According to the provisions of the Penal Code, those who accept bribes and mediators are also criminals and must be brought to justice.
The issue of the $40,000-bribe to three members of the Senate is currently under investigation. To prove this accusation, the Attorney General is obliged to start the investigation and file a case. Thus, these three Senators, despite the fact that their “crime” has been declared “evident”, are presently acquitted under Article 25 of the Constitution and Article 5 of the Penal Code.
However, how President Ghani deals with this issue is worth considering. Two of these senators were appointed by Ghani to the Senate. Ghani fired his senators after it was announced that three Senators had been arrested for accepting bribes. If the reason for this is the allegation of bribery, this crime has not been proven yet. But if Ghani believes their crime was evident, his reaction was in haste. That being said, the verdict on who is guilty is only within the jurisdiction of the competent courts.
Crime is usually a personal and individual act. The guilt of these three Senators cannot, if proven, be extended to other Senators. However, if the guilt of these three Senators is proven, its notoriety stain will affect other senators as well. It is as if the mistake of a member of the Senate or a member of the House of Representatives has been repeatedly attributed to all these institutions. Events like this undermine public confidence in the Senate. However, the threshold of public trust in this institution has not been very high before in any case.
Bibi Gul Ghani, the First Lady, once likened the House of Representatives to a shop for buying and selling votes. Earlier, some people called it “Sarai Shahzada”, referring to the largest currency exchange market in the country. This impression of this institution was not formed overnight, but is the result of repeated mistakes made by members of parliament, and the people have seen these mistakes. Of course, such an impression did not exist about the Senate, despite the fact that some of its members are accused of extrajudicial activities. If the guilt of these three senators accused of bribery is proven, the people’s view of this institution will also change.
Offering a bribe or asking for a bribe of up to $40,000 is not a small scandal. This act, in addition to being a crime, is also defamatory. Therefore, in order to prevent such incidents, the case of these three senators should be considered as a lesson. The country’s judiciary must examine all the legal aspects of this case, and not deal with it politically.